Salary Outlook with a Human Resources Degree

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - July 15, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you want to enjoy a good career working with people and a solid salary, a degree in human resources can be a great fit. Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this field will provide you with the HR skills that you need to be employed in a growing field for many years.

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Before you decide to get your degree in human resources, you will want to understand what kind of salary you can look forward to. Here are the factors that are important to consider:

  • Whether you obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources
  • The type of human resources-related career you work in
  • How many years of work experience you have
  • Geographic location

When you have analyzed this important information, you will have a better idea of the possible salary you can have with a human resources degree.

Level of Human Resources Degree

While it varies somewhat by field, research suggests that people with a master’s degree earn more money than those with only a bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professionals with a bachelor’s degree earn a typical salary of $56,000, while they earn a salary of $68,000 with a master’s degree. This is a $12,000 increase on average that can make a big difference over your career.

BLS also reports that some occupations related to human resources can have a higher salary with a master’s degree. For example, the occupation of social and community service manager has a $50,000 typical salary with a bachelor’s degree and a $65,000 salary with a master’s for a difference of $15,000. A medical and health services manager with a bachelor’s degree has a salary of $70,000 and a $90,000 salary with a master’s degree for a difference of $20,000.

Regarding a degree in human resources, has the following information about salaries with a master’s degree:

  • HR manager: $66,000
  • HR generalist: $51,500
  • HR director: $99,500
  • HR business partner: $71,500
  • Director of human resources: $86,300
  • HR analyst: $54,300
  • VP of HR: $149,600

For a bachelor’s degree, you can expect these salaries:

  • HR manager: $60,000
  • HR director: $89,400
  • HR generalist: $50,000
  • Director of human resources: $83,500
  • Human resources coordinator: $42,900

Generally, higher pay and higher positions are reserved for HR professionals with a master’s degree. You can get your foot in the door with a bachelor’s degree, but the highest level positions usually will come after years of experience and a master’s degree.

Type of Human Resources Career

The type of career you choose will make a major difference in the salary you with with your HR degree. Below are the most common options:

HR Manager

A human resources manager is responsible for planning, directing and coordinating the many administrative functions of a business or organization. HR managers oversee recruiting, interviewing and hiring of new staff. They also consult with executives on hiring practices for the organization and are a link between employees and management. HR managers also must regularly consult with other managers about strategic planning and talent management concerns. HR managers also attempt to maximize the value of each employee and ensure each is used efficiently.

Some of the most common HR managers are:

  • Labor relations directors: Oversee employment policies in nonunion and union settings.
  • Payroll managers: Supervise operations of the payroll department.
  • Recruiting manager: Oversees recruiting and hiring of the HR department.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for HR managers is $110,000. The bottom 10% with less experience and education earned $65,000 and the top 10% earned more than $197,000. Median wages for HR managers by industry were;

  • Management of enterprises and companies: $124,500
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $124,300
  • Manufacturing: $106,000
  • Government: $98,200
  • Healthcare and social assistance: $94,600

Administrative Service Manager

An administrative service manager plans, directs and coordinates supportive services for many types of organizations. The responsibilities of administrative service managers can vary, but they usually are responsible for overseeing and maintaining the facility and supervising activities such as recordkeeping, office upkeep and mail distribution.

One type of administrative service manager is a facility manager, which is responsible for oversight of grounds, buildings, equipment and supplies. They may be responsible for overseeing company operations and maintenance and planning and managing projects.

Another type is a records and information manager. They are responsible for developing, monitoring and managing the records for an organization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for this field was $94,000 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $163,000 per year. Salaries by industry were:

  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $102,300
  • Finance and insurance: $102,000
  • Local government: $95,600
  • Educational services: $89,900
  • Healthcare and social assistance: $86,400

Compensation and Benefits Manager

A compensation and benefits manager plans, develops and oversees programs to compensate employees in all types of organizations. A compensation manager is mostly responsible for the management of the organization’s pay structure, while the benefits manager is responsible for the oversight of the company’s benefits program.

The median wage for compensation and benefits managers in 2017 was $119,000 with the top 10% earning more than $202,000. Salaries by industry were as follows:

  • Insurance carriers and related activities: $127,700
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $127,700
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $125,800
  • Healthcare and social assistance: $108,2000
  • Government: $97,600

Human Resources Work Experience

A very important factor in your salary as a human resources professional is the level of experience you have. Generally, the longer you have been in service, the higher your salary.

For example, a human resources manager will see an increasing salary over the years, according to A manager with less than five years of experience will see an average salary of $53,000, while a manager with five to 10 years of experience will earn $65,000. An HR manager with 10 to 20 years of experience will have a salary of $70,000, and one with more than 20 years of experience will have a salary of $73,000.

Human Resources Geographic Location

The last major factor that affects your salary with a human resources degree is where you live in the US. reports the national average salary for human resources managers is $64,000, but the salary can vary widely by the city in which you live:

  • San Francisco: +32%
  • Washington: +21%
  • Los Angeles: +20%
  • New York City: +18%
  • Boston: +18%
  • Seattle: +16%
  • Houston: +13%
  • Chicago: +12%
  • Portland: -1%
  • Miami: -3%

All of the above factors will have an influence on the salary you earn in human resources. But generally, the HR field is growing as the US economy as a whole is growing as well. With a bachelor’s or master’s degree in HR, you can enjoy a growing, prosperous career with a good salary.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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